We interviewed the cast and crew to take you behind the scenes of theatre production Behind the Curtained Door.
The play is about three Chinese women whose friendships prove to be stronger than the lies and betrayals they face together. Commissioned by Manchester Confucius Institute, the play premiered in Manchester last year and is coming to Leeds on 14 June as part of its UK tour. Read more about the project in this post.
Producer Yanni Ng also plays the role of Yiling, Ping's niece. Yanni is a drama student at the University of Manchester and hopes to become a theatre producer, director, or lighting designer in the future - anything that allows her to explore and expand her creative interests.
The characters in the play are British Chinese. How do you describe your nationality?
I'm from Hong Kong but my mum also has Canadian nationality, therefore I'm also half-Canadian.
What is your role in the production, and what was your motivation for getting involved?
I'm going to be playing Yiling who's struggling to understand the close relationship between Ping and Ah Luk while trying to get enough funds to start a dance school. She's not as closely aligned with Chinese traditions as the other characters, yet is still tied down by them.
After a successful two-day run in Manchester late September, I was inspired to see a room full of audience members who looked just like me - people outside the drama community coming to watch a play where they too, can see themselves and their stories on stage - and it wasn't a particularly hard decision to do this again, but this time in several universities around the UK!
I was inspired to see a room full of audience members who looked just like me - people outside the drama community coming to watch a play where they too, can see themselves and their stories on stage.
Please can you tell us a bit more about your roles in the production?
As part of the creative team, I'm producing and lighting designing for the play as I previously did in Manchester. Producing requires a lot of organisation, email exchanging while also trying to find the best way to promote our show online through trailers, posters, rehearsal photos etc., therefore you'll probably see me constantly on my laptop tapping away!
In our touring production, I'll also be playing Yiling who's the niece of Ping. She's the youngest character, hence her relationship with the other two women in the play are distanced since she's grown up in the UK and is more attuned to modern values.
How did you feel when you first read the script for the play?
It was a surreal experience as me, Sam and Lauren were all aware of what we were getting into (putting on one of the first all South-East Asian productions at University) so reading the script made it all the more real. We knew there were high expectations for us to do the script justice and we really wanted to put our best foot forward by having realistic and genuine representations of Chinese culture.
We really wanted to put our best foot forward by having realistic and genuine representations of Chinese culture.
Which aspect of the project and tour are you most excited about?
I'm mostly excited to be able to do the production again and reunite with the BTCD team! Working with everyone back in Manchester was a definitive highlight during my time at university and being able to bring this story to other audiences elsewhere makes it all the better!
Can you think of a detail (e.g. part of the set, or a line in the script) that you hope the audience will notice and appreciate? Can you describe why you think this detail is interesting/important?
I'd say the lighting! There are subtle changes and hints dotted throughout the piece that suggests or foreshadows future events and reflects certain character's inhibitions that might go unnoticed. The sound design as well really adds to the world of the play despite being in the background!
Behind the Curtained Door features a full cast of British Chinese characters, which many people may not have seen before. Can you recommend any other plays, films or media that feature China or Chinese people as main characters?
New Earth Theatre is a theatre company based in London and aims to establish the voices, stories, and experiences of BESEA (British East and South East Asian) artists around the UK. Not only do they produce plays coming from a variety of BESEA creatives, they also have workshops, programmes, academies and other mentorship schemes for aspiring theatre-makers to develop and hone their skills! They're currently showing a play called 'WORTH' which is on until 20th May so be sure to get your tickets soon. I'll be watching this with Haley later this month and I can't wait to see it!
Can you tell us a fun or unusual fact about yourself?
Whenever I go home, the absolute first thing I do is walk along the Sai Kung Waterfront with my dog - it doesn't feel the same when I don't!